People like fast food because it can be prepared and served very quickly. However,
fast food has been linked to many health disorders including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.
Now the question is: Are all fast food the same?
In a paper published on July 2, 2012 in the journal ‘Circulation’, a group of researchers from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, National University of Singapore and University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health reported that American style fast food such as burgers and fries would raise the risk of diabetes and heart disease but the Asian fast food like noodles and dumplings would not.
The study aimed to examine the link between Western-style fast food intake and the risk of incident Type-2 diabetes and coronary heart disease (CHD). It involved 63,257 Chinese Singaporean aged between 45 and 75 who enrolled in the Singapore Chinese Health Study from April 1993 to December 1998. Through process of in-person interview, these individuals answered questions on usual diet, demographics, height and weight, use of tobacco, usual physical activity, menstrual and reproductive history (women only), medical history, and family history of cancer. These participants were followed for about a decade.
For CHD mortality, 52,584 participants were included and 1,397 deaths were found through December 31, 2009, via registry linkage. For Type-2 diabetes, 43,176 participants were included and 2,252 cases were identified during the follow-up interview (1999–2004).
The findings showed that those who consumed fast food 2 or more times a week had 27 percent higher risk of diabetes and 56 percent higher risk of cardiac death than those who ate little or no fast food. Among 811 participants who ate Western-style fast food 4 or more times a week, the risk of cardiac death was raised by 80 percent. Even after adjusting for other factors such as age, sex, weight, smoking status and education level, the findings still held.
On the other hand, the study did not find any association between more cases of Type-2 diabetes and cardiac deaths with eating Eastern fast food like dim sum, noodles and dumplings.
It is interesting to note that Singaporeans, who ate Western fast food, were more likely to be younger, educated and physically active, and were less likely to smoke, than those who preferred a more traditional diet.